Saturday, October 25, 2014
The Bad Breath of Corruption
So tightly did things appear to be controlled, so lacking in clarity during the Synod, I had a dream that chained and dressed in their blue-grey habits emaciated and pale from their months in prison would be brought into the Synod Hall singing Nebucco a coffle of Franciscan Friars and Sisters of the Immaculate. They were an example of justice in the Church to anyone who might have the temerity to go against the predetermined plan. Their crime after all these months has not been disclosed, either to the the Church at large or to them themselves. Their suffering appear to be that they have simply 'displeased'. The refusal to disclose the 'how' and 'who' of the Friars offense is one of the looming injustices of the Church today.
Justice and Truth cannot be separated, they are objective realities and there is a connection between Justice and Truth, and Transparency. Justice must not only be done but be seen to be done, and it must be done honestly and by men who are themselves Just. The Holy Father recently in an address to representatives of the International Association of Criminal Law said 'The corrupt person is a person who takes the “short-cuts of opportunism” that lead him to think of himself as a “winner” who insults and persecutes whoever contradicts him. “Corruption is a greater evil than sin”, and more than “be forgiven, must be cured”. For myself I had always thought corruption was the result of sinful men who like the 'unjust judge had neither fear of God, nor regard for men' Lk 18:2.
Canonists like Suarez liked to define the Church as a 'just society', I presume he presumed that its leaders believed in the Just God who they would eventually face on the Last Day, and that they prized honesty and forthrightness before everything. If that was so then, it is far from the impression given nowadays. The world simply sees the Church and Churchmen as dishonest and therefore untruthful, we are mistrusted in small things, like finances or telling the truth about ourselves, and consequently untrustworthy in the big things, like speaking of God and Salvation, of Sin and Virtue. Cardinal Kasper's denial of the Pentin interview, seems to have been ignored by the Holy See, there has been no suggestion that any action will be taken against him, or even any excuse, that he has for example, 'gone senile' and is receiving medical or psychological help. It's just ignored, shrugged off, as if such an exalted Cardinal's very public fault, lying, is just part of the cut and thrust of Church life. And yet we follow a Master who said, "Let your 'yes' mean yes and your 'no' mean no!" Yet, he lied and threatened a journalists career and good name: he bore false witness and broke a commandment.
Throughout the world the Church is seen as lacking integrity, covering up sins, denying and adding to the sufferings of victims of its institution from Dublin to Sydney, from Los Angeles to Poltz. Millions of pounds are spent on protecting the very fragile and as far as the world is concerned already tarnished reputations of some not very nice but very powerful men.
The removal of Cardinal Burke, 'the Incorruptible', as one Italian journalist has described him, does little for the Church which in so many ways is being seen as really very corrupt. The Pope described corruption as 'bad breath', well the smell of bad breath is very much to the fore. The Synod highlighted the power of the wealthy German bishops, guarding their share of Church tax and using it to bully or buy the support of other bishops, whilst their Churches though economically wealthy are spiritually amongst the poorest in the world. At the same time as their attempted manipulation of the Synod it was revealed that the German car manufacture Porsche was able to buy its way into the Vatican to use the Sistine Chapel for corporate entertainment. Then of course this isn't just a German problem, during the canonisation of the two Popes there was that party arranged by the powerful Immacolata Chaouqui, the woman who tweeted against Pope Benedict, for certain wealthy invited guests on the Vatican roof with Mgr Lucio Angel Vallejo Balda distributing Holy Communion from a whiskey tumbler. Maybe it is not corruption but it sure has the foul breath of it. Then again its interesting to see so many of the favourites of those who once favoured Marcel Maciel are now in strategic positions, even one or two of his personal favourites are now back in favour and influence.
It has been put forward that there has been clamp-down on corruption, some notable dismissals like the 'Bishop of Bling', Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst. Yes, but the expenditure of Cdl Reinhard Marx has gone unnoted, there has been no investigation but he is spending 51 million euros for the beautification of the Archdiocesan Campus and not an eyebrow is raised in the Holy See. In Italy the reputation of the Bishop Albenga-Imperia, Bishop Mario Oliveri is being trashed. In part it appears he has welcomed some FFIs and also because some of his priests have been 'moon-lighting as barmen, stealing parish funds and getting tattooed'. I don't know if his response might be, 'Who am I to judge' but their behaviour seems no worst than members of the Papal circle, lifts and Swiss army officers come to mind or some of the clergy of the diocese of Rome who reputed spend time in cities gay enclaves. Indeed, who will investigate Rome where so much seems to be swept under the carpet. Remember the 'Vatileaks', what has happened to that? What about the diocese of Linz or the Archdiocese of Vienna where according to reports from We are the Church type groups, a considerable number of the clergy are living in either homosexual or heterosexual relationships.
The impression that is given is that Justice in the Church is itself corrupted, indeed, that it is actually about settling scores and has nothing to do with truthfulness which was once considered a Christian virtue. Rather than being consoled by accounts of these investigations I become increasingly alarmed, it seems as if some religious orders or diocese that seem to produce fruit and are orthodox are subject to investigation whilst others which are barren and often highly unorthodox carry on in their own sweet way, especially if the have powerful or wealthy friends at court. The problem is that Justice appears to used as a robber baron or some New World dictator might use it, as a means of intimidation and threat, not to bring the Salvific Light of Christ to bear on dark and hidden corners. It is as if some are above the Law and others crushed by it.
Posted by Fr Ray Blake